Andrew Jones had a post the other day on “Are Short Term Missions a Waste of Money?.” Andrew has 10 very good responses, which stem from the article in the Washington Post called “Churches Retool Mission Trips.

Here are some thought provoking and interesting statements from the article:

Critics scornfully call such trips “religious tourism” undertaken by “vacationaries.” Some blunders include a wall built on the children’s soccer field at an orphanage in Brazil that had to be torn down after the visitors left. In Mexico, a church was painted six times during one summer by six different groups. In Ecuador, a church was built but never used because the community said it was not needed.

The curriculum, for example, warns missionaries to think about their attire in conservative countries and what kind of message they’re sending when they bring expensive cameras and other electronics to poverty-stricken villages.

Despite the concerns with trips abroad, their popularity is soaring. Some groups go as far away as China, Thailand and Russia. From a few hundred in the 1960s, the trips have proliferated in recent years. A Princeton University study found that 1.6 million people took short-term mission trips — an average of eight days — in 2005. Estimates of the money spent on these trips is upward of $2.4 billion a year. Vacation destinations are especially popular: Recent research has found that the Bahamas receives one short-term missionary for every 15 residents.

I’ve been on and led about 12-14 short-term missions trips over the last 10 years or so and I have always been an advocate of them. They have always been very transformative experiences for me and the team that I’m with, but I think the article raises some great points, which I and others have been thinking about for a long time.

Are short-term missions good stewardship?

Are they beneficial to the hosting communities?

Are short-term trips more Christian tourism than anything?

What do you think:

Have you been on a short-term mission trip?

Where did you go?

What did you do?

Was it effective?

Was it good stewardship?

In the next day or so I want to talk about one alternative to the “go to a foreign country to build a house” approach to missions. But if you are curious about this topic you can go to Christianity Today where they ran a series “Are Short-Term Missions Good Stewardship?